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‘But, dad,’ I said. ‘You always kept saying told me that I should work for myself when I was growing up. And, remember how happy you were when you left your company to work for yourself 40 years ago?'

‘Caterina,’ my dad said, ‘I left a factory where I was working 15-hour shifts. Not the best company in the world.’

Six months forward and I am in the Google bathroom, crying. I have just left my laptop and my phone in a locker. My eyes fell on the ‘Only Googlers beyond this point’ sign. My colleague is waiting for me downstairs to walk me out and take my badge. He wants to make it ceremonial and maybe snap a few selfies. 

I did not expect I would cry when resigning from this job. I have been thinking about my resignation for ages. And there is no doubt in my mind it is the right decision. The day has come that as Anais Nin said 'the risk to remain tight in a bud is more painful than the risk it takes to blossom.'

Yet…it is the end of an era. For more than eight years I have been...

“You women find it more difficult toward your path to directorship. You are naturally consensus builders. We are looking for a specific profile.”

That’s what the director of another department once told me after blocking my promotion. I was shattered. I thought the promotion was in the bag; my boss had told me so. I had crushed my numbers. The clients and the colleagues at workplace loved me. My VP and team had signed off. But when the director argued against what he saw as my “profile”–and then pinned that to my gender–well, the opportunity vanished.

Until then, I admit that I’d quietly believed gender bias was basically a non-issue, at least where my own career was concerned. But losing out on that promotion led me to finally face facts, and dig into the research–which shows, for example, that both men and women believe men are more likely to possess the greater share of leadership skills. Yet when that same 2012 study analyzed over 7,000 leaders’ effectiveness scores, gender made no d...

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